Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Did you catch last week’s post about Ceia Kitchen + Bar? If you can’t make it to Newburyport, you can experience a taste of Ceia in your own home with this delicious recipe for Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree from Ceia’s Executive Chef, Jeremy Glover.

I’ve made these brussel sprouts twice since Jeremy shared the recipe with me. You are going to love them! Brussel sprouts are so decadent roasted this way. With the sweet and tangy puree on top, Bean couldn’t get enough of it! 

I’m not going to pretend Schmaltz was part of my culinary vocabulary. I had to look it up. Wikipedia says it’s “rendered chicken or duck fat used for cooking in European cuisine.” You can skim the fat off homemade bone broth, or cheat like I did and pick up a container of duck fat at a local market like Grand Trunk World Market or Whole Foods. For a vegan option, just roast the sprouts with olive oil and follow the rest of the recipe for the shallot puree. Chef Jeremy recommends this olive oil.

Set up your puree ingredients while the sprouts are roasting. Pre-measure your olive oil. Pour the shallot vinegar and honey into the blender or food processor. I used my 15 year old Cuisinart and it was totally fine. Once the shallots and garlic were roasted, the shallot puree came together quickly. I can see myself making it with other meals for sure.

I served these Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts on a weeknight with a roast chicken, butternut squash, and quinoa.  The flavors meshed really well with the sprouts. There was plenty of shallot puree to drizzle over our plates, which we did. Maybe even more than a drizzle! It tasted amazing over the quinoa. 

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree may sound complicated, but it’s not a hard recipe to follow. Add it to the menu for your next dinner party because it will definitely impress your guests! These fancy sprouts will be a gorgeous addition to any holiday table with their festive combination of red and green. Cómelo todo!

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree
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Ingredients
  1. 24 Brussel sprouts
  2. 3 tablespoons chicken or duck fat
  3. 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  4. 2 shallots, cut length wise
  5. 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  6. 2 tablespoons raw honey
  7. 4 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
  8. 12 pomegranate seeds
  9. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut sprouts in half lengthwise, smash the cloves of garlic, cut shallots, and toss together with warm chicken or duck fat and salt.
  3. Roast on sheet pan until Brussel sprouts are dark and crisp. The garlic and shallots should be soft as well. This may take 20 – 25 minutes.
  4. Take sheet pan out of oven, peel shallots, place one and a half in blender with vinegar, honey, and garlic. Blend mixture until smooth. Drizzle oil slowly until fully emulsified.
  5. Arrange sprouts in a pile, petal out the half shallot that isn’t in the vinaigrette. Place vinaigrette in a few spots on the sprouts. Finish with the pomegranate seeds.
Adapted from Executive Chef Jeremy Glover
Adapted from Executive Chef Jeremy Glover
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

 

Simple Shortcuts: Skillet Potatoes

Simple Shortcuts: Skillet Potatoes - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Today I’m sharing the second post in a series of simple shortcuts to save time in the kitchen when you’re in a rush. Even when life is busy, we still need to make healthy food choices to keep our bodies and minds nourished.

White potatoes get a bad rap because they’re high in carbohydrates. But because potatoes are real food, they’re a much better choice than processed food any day. Potatoes are a great source of fiber, protein, vitamin B6 + C, and potassium. I love potatoes, and so did my Irish ancestors. There’s something to be said about eating the foods of your heritage. Bottom line, everything in moderation. White potatoes are a healthy choice a few times a week. 

These skillet potatoes work for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even a quick snack. We typically use this simple shortcut side dish on a weekday morning. I bake 4 to 6 potatoes at a time, depending on the size of the potato. Choose organic russet, yukon gold, or red bliss. You’ll need about a half of potato per person for a serving.

Anytime you’re using the oven between 375-425 degrees, throw in some whole potatoes. These guys aren’t fussy about temperature. Check them at about 45 minutes to an hour. Potatoes are done when they give in to a little squeeze. Let the baked potatoes cool; then store them in a glass container the fridge for up to 4 days.

When you’re ready to use this simple shortcut, the skillet potatoes will cook really fast because you’re skipping the step of boiling the potatoes first. You only need to sauté the potatoes enough to brown them since they’re already cooked. In the meantime, scramble up some eggs. Maybe make some veggies in another pan — like onion, spinach, and tomatoes. A nourishing breakfast will be ready in 8 minutes or less, getting you out the door on time with a full, happy belly.

Stay tuned for more Simple Shortcuts. Cómelo todo!

Skillet Potatoes
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Total Time
8 min
Total Time
8 min
Ingredients
  1. 4-6 Baked potatoes
  2. Pad of butter, extra virgin olive oil, or vegan substitute
  3. Sea salt and pepper to taste
  4. Fresh parsley or rosemary, if desired
Instructions
  1. Warm a skillet over medium heat with butter or extra virgin olive oil (skip the canola!).
  2. Add a shake of salt and pepper directly to the skillet instead of tossing the potatoes in a bowl. Add your favorite herbs or spices if you’re feeling fancy.
  3. Cut the already baked potatoes into cubes or wedges.
  4. Add the chopped potato to the skillet. Shake every few minutes.
  5. Devour your browned skillet potatoes and make them again soon!
Notes
  1. Choose organic potatoes and herbs when possible.
  2. Make sure your ketchup doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup. Organic ketchup is the best choice.
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

Rustic Sweet Potato Salad

Rustic Sweet Potato Salad Recipe - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Sometimes happy accidents happen in my kitchen. A few weeks ago, I was staring into my refrigerator willing the shiny appliance to make me some lunch. I ended up mixing together some left overs with a can of beans and Rustic Sweet Potato Salad was born.

This recipe is a perfect make ahead lunch to grab before work, or an easy Meatless Monday dinner. Serve it over a bed of arugula or just dig in with a spoon. Maybe add a fried egg and try it for breakfast. You can eat this Rustic Sweet Potato Salad anytime!

Next time you have the oven on, throw in a few sweet potatoes (roughly 400 degrees for about 45 minutes). Sweet potatoes are lower on the glycemic index than regular potatoes and are full of vitamins (A, C, B6 and potassium). Add in some black beans for fiber and protein; then onion and pepper for crunch. The recipe is naturally gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, nut free, dairy free, refined sugar free, and delicious! 

Rustic Sweet Potato Salad comes together quickly. Mix it in one bowl for easy clean up. I always start with the dressing and just whisk it at the bottom of the bowl. Don’t worry about cutting everything perfectly; that’s what makes it rustic! Be generous with the sea salt. Maybe even add a few cracks of Himalayan pink salt when serving.

Cómelo todo!

Rustic Sweet Potato Salad
Serves 2
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Maple Vanilla Vinaigrette
  1. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. Sea salt and pepper to taste
Salad
  1. 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  2. 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  3. 1 cup of cooked, cubed sweet potato (skin on!)
  4. 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
Instructions
  1. 1. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
  2. 2. Add black beans, pepper, sweet potato, and red onion.
  3. 3. Gently stir to combine.
  4. 4. Serve chilled, warm, or at room temperature.
Notes
  1. - Use organic ingredients when possible.
  2. - Double the dressing ingredients for another day's garden salad.
  3. - Always check your labels: sometimes canned beans are full sodium. I love Eden Organic because there's no added salt.
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

Simple Shortcuts: Herb Butter

Simple Shortcuts: Herb Butter - Under the Monkey Bars

Even when life is busy, we still need to eat healthy to keep our bodies and minds nourished. Today I’m sharing the first post in a series of simple shortcuts to save you time when you’re in a rush to get dinner on the table.

Who loves butter? I’m not talking about the kind that comes in a spray bottle or those butter replacement spreads. Unless you have a dairy allergy or follow a vegan diet, eat real butter. And not just any butter. Butter from grass-fed cows that graze on the green pastures of small family farms. You can taste the difference — especially in Kerrygold brand, which is imported straight from Ireland.

Why pastured? Pastured dairy cows yield butterfat that’s loaded with vitamins A & D, iodine, and other essential nutrients. Butter is downright delicious, and it’s a good fat for heart, brain, hormone, and cell function. Everything in moderation though, right?

Today’s simple shortcut uses one of my favorite products: Kerrygold Garlic & Herb Butter. All of our local grocery stores (Market Basket, Shaws and Whole Foods) carry Kerrygold brand, but only Whole Foods stocks the Garlic & Herb Butter. I keep several sticks in the freezer. Yes, you can freeze butter! 

You can certainly make your own herb butter, but today we are using a high quality product to save time. I love using this butter when I bake fresh fish. Honestly, it’s barely a recipe it’s so easy. Add ingredients based on how much time you have and what you have on hand. My monkeys love garlic so I always add a few shakes of Spicely Organic garlic powder. No need to peel or chop a clove tonight, friends. Keep it simple. You could add extra herbs to compliment the blend in the butter, which includes chives, parsley, salt, dill, pepper, and paprika.

Stay tuned for more Simple Shortcuts. Cómelo todo!

Easy Baked Fish
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. Wild caught fish (flounder, cod, salmon)
  2. 1 teaspoon of quality olive oil
  3. 1/2 teaspoon of Kerrygold Garlic & Herb Butter per fillet
  4. Sprinkle of sea salt
  5. Squeeze of fresh lemon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Spray a ceramic baking dish with olive oil (I use a reusable stainless steel Misto sprayer).
  3. Cut the fish into fillets.
  4. Add a thin slice of Kerrygold Garlic & Herb Butter, a sprinkle of salt, and a squeeze of fresh lemon to each fillet.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until the center of the fish is no longer translucent.
  6. Using a pastry brush, spread butter and herbs evenly on the fish.
  7. Serve immediately with your choice of healthy side dishes for an easy dinner.
Notes
  1. Choose sustainable, wild caught fish from a local fish market.
  2. For the 4 of us, I purchase 1.3 pounds of fish and cut it into 4 filets.
  3. Add chopped tomatoes, zucchini, and/or onions if you have extra time. Make sure to increase the cooking time by 5 minutes.
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract - Under the Monkey Bars

I just finished making my latest batch of homemade vanilla extract. You won’t believe how easy it is to make it yourself. You don’t need to be at all crafty for this DIY! The taste of homemade vanilla extract is lighter and smoother than the store bought version, and you’ll know exactly what’s in there.

I’ll never forget the first time we made vanilla extract 3 years ago. Sweet Pea and I were on our way to the liquor store to buy vodka when my Mom called. She asked Sweet Pea what we were doing that day. Sweet Pea yelled from the backseat, “We’re going to buy VODKA!” Of course she asked why I was bringing a toddler to the liquor store. I quickly explained through red cheeks that we were picking up supplies to make homemade vanilla. It was that awkward moment though…when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Out of the mouth of babes!

Homemade Vanilla Extract - Under the Monkey Bars

Anyway, vanilla extract is made by transferring the flavor of vanilla beans into alcohol. Vodka is the best type of alcohol for making vanilla extract because of its neutral flavor. I’ve heard that some people use brandy or rum, but keep in mind the flavor will be different. We use vanilla extract almost daily to flavor plain yogurt, bake muffins, make pancakes, and in smoothies. I wouldn’t want these things to taste like rum. Not for monkeys!

Two items to consider when choosing your alcohol: 1) Pay more for glass bottles to minimize BPAs transferred through plastics. Here’s why. 2) Buy gluten free alcohol if you or anyone you bake for follows a gluten free diet. Store bought Nielsen Massey Pure Vanilla Extract is gluten free, but there’s added sugar on the ingredient list. When you make it homemade, your vanilla extract won’t need any sugar. This time I used two 750 ml glass bottles of Luksusowa Potato Vodka. I found some less expensive corn-based vodkas but thought it would be best to avoid corn since vodka isn’t labeled for GMOs.

There are many choices for vanilla beans. I’ve used Tahitian vanilla beans and a few varieties of Madagascar vanilla beans. I recommend buying grade B Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. These beans are cheaper than grade A beans because they contain less moisture and are not as pretty. The flavor is the same so don’t worry about what they look like. These beans are perfect for a homemade vanilla extract, and will save you some money.

It takes 2-3 months for the vanilla beans to break down in the alcohol. If you get your ingredients asap, you can pull off homemade vanilla gifts for the holidays! Give a beautiful amber bottle of homemade vanilla extract on its own, or add items to make a gift basket. Create a festive gift box with a high end pancake mix, whisk or mixing spoon, pure maple syrup from the farmer’s market, and fun napkins. Homemade vanilla extract makes such a thoughtful holiday gift.

Making homemade vanilla can save you money. I broke even on this batch. Before we went gluten free, I could buy cheaper vodka for less than $10/bottle. If you buy your amber bottles in bulk or reuse them, that will also contribute to your overall savings. To me, homemade always tastes better especially because it’s made with love, and it’s a fun activity for little monkeys.

Got monkeys? They can help! Monkeys can put the halved vanilla beans into the bottles. They can also be in charge of shaking the bottles a few times a week. That’s a fun chore! When the vanilla is ready, ask your monkeys to line up the bottles and hold the funnel while you pour the homemade vanilla extract. Sweet Pea is still my helper whenever we make homemade vanilla. 

I made you a little shopping list of supplies you may not have on hand. Click the links to save you time and minimize trial and error when making your first batch of homemade vanilla:
Stainless steel funnel with detachable strainer
Vanilla beans, package of 25
– Amber glass bottles: 4 oz pack of 12, 8 oz pack of 6, or 8 oz pack of 12 — depending on what size/how much you decide to make
– Handwrite your own dishwasher safe label stickers or order custom “homemade vanilla” labels (I still have a few sheets left from my original order!)
Sharp knife
– Eco-friendly, made in the USA cutting board (I’m replacing all of ours with these)

Like wine, vanilla extract matures with age. You are going to love making your own homemade vanilla extract. Let me know how it comes out!

Homemade Vanilla Extract
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Ingredients
  1. 2 bottles (750 ml) of 80+ proof vodka (40% alcohol)
  2. 24 Madagascar vanilla beans, grade B
Instructions
  1. Using the funnel, remove approximately 1/4 cup of vodka from each bottle to make room for vanilla beans. You can always pour out a little more after you put the vanilla beans in. If you drink vodka, have a decanter ready to save what you pour out!
  2. Slice each vanilla bean lengthwise along one entire side of the bean. Use your sharpest knife and bare down really hard.
  3. Place the beans in the vodka bottle, replace the lid, and shake.
  4. Write the date you made the vanilla on the vodka bottle with a sharpie (so you don't forget!).
  5. Store the vanilla for 2-3 months in a cool, dark room.
  6. Shake the vanilla once a week to agitate the beans and speed the extraction process.
  7. After 2-3 months, pour your homemade vanilla extract through a funnel into six 8 oz. amber bottles or twelve 4 oz. amber bottles. Add labels and store or give!
Adapted from DIY Natural
Adapted from DIY Natural
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/